2. Hector Villalba
Hector Villalba, known affectionately by Atlanta Supporters as the “lion tamer,” is no stranger to Orlando City. In Atlanta’s inaugural season last year, Villalba scored two goals and two assists in three games against the Lions, including the MLS Goal of the Year on this stunner from deep.
Both of his goals were scored in the late, late stages of those games. Villalba’s first goal, which ended up being the game-winning goal, came in the 86th minute of a deadlocked match. Villalba’s second goal, an equalizer at Bobby Dodd Stadium, came in stoppage time in the 92nd minute. In the third match against Orlando, Villalba assisted on two of Martinez’s three goals.
Because of injury this season, Villalba has only put in 86 minutes against Orlando across two matches. In that span, he was unable to score, but he did notch an assist in Atlanta’s most recent 4-0 win over Orlando.
I expect Villalba to play well this Friday, since his track record against Orlando suggests so. He may not have any late-game heroics, but his ability to impact the game will certainly be felt.